Johanns Warns Against Dangerous Precedent Of Using Budget Reconciliation For Health Care Reform

Johanns Warns Against Dangerous Precedent Of Using Budget Reconciliation For Health Care Reform


Washington, DC


Senator Mike Johanns today issued the following statement on the possibility of using budget reconciliation to pass health care reform.


"Health care reform is important, but using budget reconciliation sets a dangerous precedent," Johanns said. "Reconciliation was never meant to be used for non-budgetary measures, including health care legislation, and abandoning Senate rules to pass a bill that otherwise would not have the Senate's support is simply wrong. It is unfortunate that Democrat leaders appear willing to silence the bipartisan minority and resort to closed-door, back room deals and parliamentary loopholes to impose their unpopular agenda on the American people that will raise taxes and health care costs."


Budget reconciliation was enacted in 1981 as a means to achieve spending- and revenue-related goals throughout the budget process. In the Senate, debate is limited to 20 hours, and the amendment process is restricted significantly.


The use of the budget reconciliation maneuver would silence the bipartisan minority that has expressed concern about this approach to health care reform. Several Democrat Senators have opposed the use of budget reconciliation, including Sen. Ben Nelson (NE), Sen. Robert Byrd (WV), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (MT), Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND).


• "It would be a tremendous mistake to jam it through with 50 votes" under the Senate's arcane budget reconciliation process." - Sen. Ben Nelson ("Nelson wants health reform in 2 parts," Lincoln Journal Star, 9.28.09)


• "I was one of the authors of the legislation that created the budget 'reconciliation' process in 1974, and I am certain that putting health care reform...on a freight train through Congress is an outrage that must be resisted." - Sen. Robert Byrd ("The End of Bipartisanship for Obama's Big Initiatives?" The Washington Post, 3.22.09)


• "Reconciliation tends to be partisan...It's not a good idea." - Sen. Max Baucus (Congress Daily AM, 3.11.09)


• "I don't believe reconciliation was ever intended for the purpose of writing this kind of substantive reform legislation such as health care reform." - Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (Congressional Record, S.3957, 3.30.09)


In April, 67 Senators, including 26 Democrats, supported an amendment offered by Senator Johanns that prevented the use of reconciliation to pass cap-and-trade legislation.